Senior class at Dance Theatre of Ireland, at Bloomfield Centre, Dún Laoghaire. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

‘I discovered the Well Dance for Seniors classes and find it’s a wonderful way to get fit’

Sandra Doody and her daughter Sarah, at home in Stillorgan, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

I asked myself was I doing the right thing taking her from her culture and birth place?

Emma is doing fine in school and the teachers have been immensely supportive. She does attend a psychologist

The children have always known they are adopted, but have totally different responses to it

Sandra Doody and her daughter Sarah, at home in Stillorgan, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

‘The inter-country adoption process is very gruelling with a lot of uncertainty’

Lichens  don’t have a root structure, and are able to shut down their metabolism during periods of extreme heat, cold and drought

Ireland is very rich in lichens, with over 1,100 recorded species

Do artists and illustrators whose work concentrates on drawing and painting birds, animals and plants have a particular affinity for the natural world?

Drawing and painting wildlife can enhance our understanding of the natural world

Anthropological studies suggest that kissing is an acceptable practice in up to 90 per cent of cultures. Photograph: iStock

The evolutionary origins and physiology behind mouth to mouth kissing

A frog’s life:  frogs spawn in the same place each year. Photograph: Moment/Getty

As the weather gets milder you might spot frogs’ eggs in ponds. But don’t disturb it

Sea gardeners: Marie Power foraging seaweed with helpers Katie and Harry Earl near Tramore in Co Waterford. Photograph: Patrick Browne

You can use seaweed in everything from scones to soup – and it’s almost back in season

Common gorse is the only species native to much of western Europe. Photograph: Getty Images

Pod-like flowers are most prolific on mountainous and bogland scrubs from February to May

Microscopic Alaria plantlets 18 days post spraying

As the world wakes up to the environmental scourge of plastic waste and the EU launches its first ever Plastics Strategy, Sylvia T(...)

Many energy drinks contain 80mg-130mg of caffeine and 30g of sugar in 250ml - twice to three times the recommended daily caffeine amount for young people, and more than the recommended daily amount of sugar

Aldi is banning so-called energy drinks to those under the age of 16

A seal enjoying the high tide in the River Liffey at Wolf Tone Quay in Dublin. Photograph: David Sleator

January is one of the best months to observe grey seals on land

With more than 90 per cent of the population using smartphones, people are more likely to turn to technology for help for mental health problems.

Apps have potential to engage people with diagnosed conditions, say experts

The curlew, with its large size and long curved bill, can be seen in  locations like North Bull Island in Dublin and Cork Harbour

The curlew one of the birds to be seen in estuaries, mudflats and coastal grasslands

Easkey Britton launching Ireland’s Biggest Ever Beach Clean Event last year. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

Beach clean-ups and surfing help us connect with nature, says surfer Easkey Britton

Monks are credited with first bringing snowdrops from Rome to Ireland. Photograph: Getty

In floriography, snowdrops are symbols of hope and consolation

Some 30 minutes’ exercise a day is essential for optimum health

Back pain is one of the main reasons why people take time off work but we now know that staying off work is unhelpful for back pai(...)

The  footprint of a badger’s forepaw in mud. Photograph:  Arterra/UIG via Getty Images

Make rural walks more interesting by seeking out the presence of wild animals

Holly with berries: became a Christian symbol

Ward off evil, contemplate Christ and get the look of love with these ancient Irish sprigs

The Christmas Day swim at the Forty Foot, Sandycove, Dublin last year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Winter sea swimming has many benefits, but beware of cold-water shock

The popular robin  is a benign symbol of cold, frosty winter days.  Photograph: Jonathan Porter/

Birdwatch Ireland invite people to record the different common garden birds they witness

Choir teacher Helen Doyle during rehearsals in St Vincent’s Girl’s School, North William St, Dublin 1. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Schoolgirls learning choir sessions can boost numeracy, literacy and concentration

Arboreal landmark near Delgany. Scots Pine planted in the mid nineteenth century.

Ireland’s tallest native evergreen was growing here 7,000 years ago

Bill Schindler (foreground) with Jason O’Brien (left) and Aidan O’Sullivan at the Centre for Experimental Archaeology & Material Culture, at UCD Belfield, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

US professor suggests that by re-connecting with the food of our ancestors, we can also build a more sustainable food system with (...)

Clinical Pilates class in Greystones, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Tom Honan

Rehabilitative exercise classes help people of all ages with chronic and acute injuries

Whooper swans wintering on the Vartry Lakes in Roundwood, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Ireland hosts up to 20% of species overwintering in Europe between October and April

Christy Kavanagh with a Nordmann Fir in a net at  Kavanaghs Christmas Tree farm in Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

A number of farms let you choose your Christmas tree and have it felled on the spot

 Jennifer Brea  in “Unrest”: She developed ME  following a fever that left her bedbound while studying for her PhD at Harvard. Photograph: Jason Frank

A sufferer has made a graphic documentary about myalgic encephalomyelitis

Grace Darcy from Clane, Co Kildare, interacting with the ‘Doomsday Clock’ exhibit at the opening of ‘In Case of Emergency’, the new free exhibition at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin.  Photograph: Mark Stedman

‘In Case of Emergencies’ exhibition: The human brain codes risk in five categories – won’t happen, unlikely, 50-50, likely and wil(...)

Like dogs, foxes have excellent hearing but their eye sight works best in low light. Photograph: Getty Images

These wild animals are now a common sight at night when they come out in search of food

The Cork city house  had a very high level of energy efficiency with an A1 BER and Passive House certification

Criteria consider water, light and air quality alongside BER energy standard

The best time to see a murmuration is just before dusk on a fine, cold winter evening. Photograph: Getty Images

Thousands of starlings swirling through the skies is one of nature’s most wonderful sights

The red and the grey squirrel: autumn is ideal for spotting them scurrying about

Contrary to popular belief, squirrels do not hibernate

Prof Matthew Walker: “Regular sleep – seven to eight hours a night – is the best method to maintain brain and body health. We are the only species which deliberately deprives ourselves of sleep.”

Sleeping less than six or seven hours a night increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke, says neur(...)

Sharon Groarke,  Bernie Kirwan and Catherine Wallace, support nurses at Hope Cancer Support Centre, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. Photograph: Patrick Browne

‘Often people with cancer put on a brave face and say they are fine but they’re not’

Autumn pleasure: the crisp feel of leaves underfoot. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Fallen leaves make for beautiful strolls while also creating habitats for small creatures

Cellist Martin Johnson: “The common problems we have are lower back, shoulder or neck pain.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Members of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra talk about the ailments that beset classical musicians

If you’re lucky, you may be able to see the Aurora Borealis   from Mayo and Connemara. Photograph: Getty Images

Mayo and Kerry are home to some of the best dark, natural skies in Ireland

Chanterelle mushroom

The trick is to learn which trees specific mushrooms grow under

Children select pumpkins at Kennedy’s Pumpkin Patch near Julianstown, Co Meath. Photograph: Wilde Photography

Several Irish farms host pumpkin-picking events in the run-up to Halloween

Pharmacist Tomas Conefrey of Conefrey’s Pharmacy, Pearse St, Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan.

The Irish Pharmacy Union has argued that the State could get greater value and efficiency from the health budget if it allowed pha(...)

Paula Finnegan  with her children, from left: Millien (5), Luke (3), Tom (2) and Sam (7) at home in Cabra, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

‘My left leg was a different colour to my right.’ Paula Finnegan recalls discovering a blood clot

As part of National Reuse Month,  people are encouraged to take part in upcycling and repair workshops. Photograph: Richard Drury/Getty Images

Initiatives include lending household goods, upcycling old products, and donating clothes

Most winter ailments – coughs, colds and sore throats – are likely to settle down with home remedies. Photograph: istock

Beat Winter series: While it can be difficult to avoid illnesses, you can minimise risk of infection

A mobile green haven in London

‘We will be asking the public to gather the data and consider what solutions will work best for their cities’

Cloughjordan Ecovillage, Co Tipperary: to celebrate the day that’s in it the ecovillage is hosting a sustainable community fair. Photograph: Alan Betson

This landmark day is a good time to highlight the diversity of the projects across Europe

Gate Lodge at the Phoenix Park. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Park ranger Paddy Crowe and his family rent a Regency style lodge in the Phoenix Park

Guilty pleasure: The FSAI received almost 750 complaints about suspected food poisoning in 2016

More than 50 per cent of adults say they eat undercooked burgers in restaurants

These competitions recognise young people’s role in combating climate change

Railtours Ireland’s Titanic Belfast/Hills of Donegal rail and coach tour takes travellers back in time - and past some of the most(...)

Tara McNeill with staff member Johney Martin at the new Simon Community gym on Island Street, Ushers Island. Photograph: Alan Betson

Ireland’s first gym for homeless people improves fitness of both body and mind

“We want more growers, schools, community and allotment gardens to use our seeds to grow Irish heritage vegetables,” says Jennifer McConnell, ISSA general manager

Spreading the word about open pollination is key to the Irish Seed Savers Association’s operation

Girl Guides from Swords, Portmarnock and Rathfarnham at the Glow 6 Camp at Ignite 2017, where  more than 600 tents were needed. Photograph: Alan Betson

Ignite 2017: When Girl Guides gathered to learn to be strong women in the 21st century

Marie Wynne at home with her husband Denis. “He played rugby. He was a sales director in a company. He was always building or making something at home or working in the garden.” Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Some family carers object to anti-psychotic medications being given to their loved ones

Anja Murray: “When you go out with friends and children, leave your phones at home and go with the intention of noticing what’s going on around you.”

National Heritage Week a prime opportunity to connect with our natural environment

Picnics and trips outdoors can beneft dementia sufferers and their families

Dr Andreas Weber: mingles his vast scientific knowledge with a poetic turn of phrase which draws readers into connections with the natural world.

Environmentalism must be fuelled by passion and empathy, argues Andreas Weber

Find it difficult to fall asleep? Make sure not to eat before you go to bed and cut out caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Sleep whisperer Chris Winter solves sleep problems without resorting to pills

Fashion researcher Rebecca Earley: “You get to experience rather than buy the clothes you want. It also offers more choice with less resources.”

It could be only a matter of time before we're leasing everything from jeans to ball gowns

The Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare. The car park at the cliffs site frequently becomes full at 11am during the summer months

There is an onus on visitors to choose carefully where – and when – they visit

All therapists are  aware of the stigma associated with admitting to suffering from a mental health problem. Photograph:  iStock

‘Many people view going to a therapist as somewhere between the confessional and the court room,’ says Prof Jim Lucey

Rosemary Woods in the RTÉ documentary Goodbye House. ‘It’s hard for older people on their own to look at houses to downsize to,’ says her daughter, Tanya

Tanya Woods describes the challenge of finding a downsizer home for her mother

Oxford University’s vice-chancellor Louise Richardson pointed out that interment did not work in the 1970s in Northern Ireland. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Oxford vice-chancellor says universities are ideal places for debate on Islamist views

John Lonergan will speak at Men’s Health seminar at the Royal College of Surgeons, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson

Plus: MedTech Week raises awareness of incontinence; and a tulip alert is issued

Irish international rugby player Gordon D’Arcy,   Rejuvenate Ireland organiser Calodagh McCumiskey and the Indian ambassador Mrs Vijay Thakur Singh. Photograph: Paul Sherwood

Health board: Indian Embassy, Yoga Therapy Ireland and Dublin City Council to host mass yoga sessions for International Yoga Day

Ken Caulfield and Miriam McNamee: “The great thing about Cuisle is when you’re there, it feels like your disability goes away.”

For people with physical disabilities, respite centres provide supported holiday accommodation. But few places exist for those wit(...)

Irish householders throw away between €700 and €1,000 worth of food every year. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A restaurant loses €24,000 a year to food waste, a hotel €150,000 – so tackling it makes sense

Ciaran Reddin (12) and Nicole Connolly (13)  at  St Colmcilles in Ballybrack meeting Shetland ponies from Festina Lente in Bray. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Children are engaging with an experiential learning approach that can have a lasting impact

Research has found that empowered patients are more likely to manage their conditions better and follow advice and instructions given by medical professionals. Photograph: iStock

Giving people a say in their own healthcare has many benefits

There is an increasing emphasis around the world on a rights-based approach to health and education. Photograph: iStock

Ombudsman’s statement sets out key rights of people undergoing medical treatment

Plastic detritus is to be found in our parks and natural spaces. By 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.

Single-use plastic is everywhere. We must ban it from homes and industries

Students from Largy College, Clones, Co Monaghan were named Young Social Innovators of the Year 2017 for their project, ‘Mend a Mind – It’s a Disorder Not a Decision’. The project aims to raise awareness about mental health, in their school and community. Photograph: Jason Clarke

Health Board: talking to children about cancer and bereavement strains

Only two in five people eligible complete the BowelScreen programme, much lower than the checks for breast or cervical cancer.

If all those eligible for bowel cancer screening availed of it, deaths would fall by 30%

The living willow hedge at Crann Og eco farm in Galway.

Connecting people with their environment is crucial for the survival of human beings

Knockrath forest in Co Wicklow. Foresters are  keen to point out that continuous cover forestry principles allow forests to interact better with protected natural habitats

Popular on European mainland for decades, continuous cover forestry is taking root in Ireland

“For some reason, 21st-century women who are happy to stand up for their rights in the boardroom are still taking childbirth lying down.”

‘It’s as much about the conversation with providers as it is about what you write down’

From left: Service users Siddhart Kureel, Aaron Leonard, Kevin O Sullivan and Kevin Nolan with the scarecrow they made for the allotments. Photograph: Cyril Byrn

Praxis Care services in Clongriffin focus on developing young adults’ life skills

The Guardian Angel Corner in the  Marble Arch Caves geopark, which straddles the Fermanagh/Cavan border.

Geoparks are sustainable tourism’s new trend and Ireland has three of the world’s 120

Fianna McHugh (4), who has Prader-willi syndrome, at her home in Clondalkin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Kitchens must be locked and money restricted for people with Prader-Willi syndrome

Declan Moriarty, who has Parkinson’s, working in the garden at home in Finglas, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Early intervention and access to services is the key to living with Parkinson’s, yet currently people in the public hospital syste(...)

Iron-rich meal: scrambled egg with mushrooms and  grilled tomato.

Many women are not getting enough of this essential mineral 

Gerald Sinnott, of Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow: had his attic insulated. Photograph: Eric Luke

Aware of the environment, policymakers are looking at new ways to deal with fuel poverty

Clean living: Bea Johnson with the waste that her family produced in a year. Photograph: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty

Could you fit a year’s waste in a little jar? Bea Johnson can, and her message is one that Irish towns are beginning to follow

Ginny Hanrahan, chief executive of CORU and  chairman  Prof Bernard McCartan at the launch of  CORU’s Five Year Statement of Strategy 2017-2021. CORU is the Regulator for Ireland’s designated Health and Social Care Professions and currently regulates more than 9,000 professionals.  Photograph: Colm Mahady / Fennell Photography

Ginny Hanrahan, the CEO of CORU, the health and social care regulator, explains its role in protecting the public from charlatans (...)

Ginny Hanrahan, CEO CORU and Prof Bernard McCartan, chair of the organisation’s Health and Social Care Professionals Council. Photograph: Colm Mahady/Fennell Photography

Ginny Hanrahan, CEO of CORU, explains the role of the health and social care regulator

EU targets: the European Union wants to cut emissions across member states. Photograph: Lukas Schulze/Getty

Ireland’s mitigation plan must be in place by June. Environmentalists say it could be too little, too late

Butler Denis Nevin will serve afternoon tea in the Pugin Room at Lismore Castle, Co Waterford, on March 19th in aid of the Immrama Festival of Travel Writing.

Cool linen sheets; ‘Devonshire Day’ at Lismore; zero waste guru comes to Dublin

Dr Andrew McGrady, former director of the Mater Dei Institute, and Samantha Fahy, DCU’s sustainability manager, make us of DCU’s intercampus bike scheme

Green Campus programme helps third-level institutions do their bit for the environment

Daragh Connolly, president of the Irish Pharmacy Union, says crimes against pharmacies have reached crisis levels. Photograph: Colm Mahady/Fennells

Three out of four pharmacies have been the victim of one or more crimes, figures show

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is considering placing signs in its nature reserves warning of possible infections by ticks

Lack of awareness in Ireland means illness is under reported, and often left untreated

Before and after: Following a rigorous course of intravenous and oral antibiotics for nine months at the Jemsek Speciality Clinic in Washington DC, Anthony Morris says he now feels ‘freakishly well’

Anthony Morris says people ‘suffer in silence’ because disease is underdiagnosed in Ireland

 Hanna Heubach, who has been growing and selling Irish flowers from her smallholding in west Co Cork for more than 20 years. Photograph: Dasha Caffrey

This St Valentine’s Day Irish growers want people to choose freshly picked local flowers rather than roses flown in from abroad

Carrie Ann Moran and Laura Kovaci, in Rediscover Fashion, at the Rediscovery Centre, in The Boiler House, Ballymun, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The Rediscovery Centre, in Ballymun in Dublin, specialises in adding value to things we might once have thrown away

Chinese flavour: Yuyang Xin, owner of Lao restaurant, on Parnell Street East. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Google Maps says the city already has one, around Parnell Street East. Local traders back the idea of making it an official distri(...)

  Green Flag programme: the award scheme   rates the management of parks across six criteria including safety, cleanliness, conservation, community involvement and sustainability

New scheme awards open spaces that balance sustainability with human activity

Caolan O’Donnell, welfare officer at University of Limerick students’ union. “When you see problems written down, they don’t always seem so big.” Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22

Demand for counselling in colleges has jumped 40% in the past decade

Ireland’s Medical World Cup team which will take part in the 2017 tournament in Austria.

Elsewhere, ‘designing public health’ is theme of discussion at Dublin’s Science Gallery

 Gateway mental health project members Maureen Quinn, Richard Moloney, Cathy Bennett, Mary Quinn, Fionn Fitzpatrick, co-ordinator, and Maura Ferry. Photograph: Alan Betson

Peer-led project in Rathmines offers ‘place to regain myself and get a sense of hope’

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